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“Do You Know Why We Vote on Tuesday?” I asked the man standing behind me as we waited in line for an hour one Monday afternoon in October during Early Voting here in Florida. He didn’t know, and was quite surprised when I explained to him that it was because back in the days when people in this country traveled by horse and buggy, they needed a day to get to the polls and they couldn’t travel on Sundays. I asked the question again last night of a woman I was talking to at an impromptu party of all the local volunteers who worked on the campaign. She too was surprised by the answer.

Quite frankly, I didn’t know the answer myself until I saw this post by Upworthy in July on my Facebook news feed.

Voting on Tuesday

And here’s the video:

I want to tell you all about a piece of American history that is so secret that nobody has done anything about it for 167 years; until right now. And the way that we're going to uncover this fistula organ of America past is by asking this question: WHY? As we all know, we're in the middle of yet another presidential election; hotly contested as you can see. But what you may not know is that American voter turnout ranks near the bottom of all countries in the entire world; 138th of 172 nations. This is the world's most famous democracy. So, why do we vote on Tuesday? Does anybody know? And as a matter of fact, Michigan and Arizona are voting today. Here's the answer: Absolutely no good reason whatsoever. I'm not joking. You will not find the answer in the Declaration of Independence; nor will you find it in the Constitution. It is just a stupid law from 1845.

In 1845 Americans traveled by horse and buggy; as did I evidently. It took a day or longer to get to the county seat to vote, a day to get back, and you couldn't travel on the Sabbath, so Tuesday it was. I don't often travel by horse and buggy. I would imagine most of you don't either, so when I found out about this, I was fascinated. I linked up with a group called what else? Why Tuesday?; to go and ask some of our nation's most prominent elected leaders if they knew the answer to the question, "Why do we vote on Tuesday?"

Video of Rick Santorium, Former U.S. Senator: Anybody know? Okay, I'm going to be stumped on this. Anybody know why we vote on Tuesdays?
Video of Ron Paul, U.S. Representative.

Inverviewer: Do you happen to know?

Ron Paul: On Tuesdays?

Inverviewer: Uh huh. The Tuesday after the first Monday in November?

Ron Paul: I don't know how that originated.

Video of Newt Gingrich, Former House Speaker.

Inverviewer: Do you happen to know why we vote on Tuesday?

Newt Gingrich: No.

Video of Dick Lugar, U.S. Senator: No I don't.
Video of Diane Feinstein, U.S. Senator: I don't.
Video of Darrell Issa, U.S. Representative: No.
Video of John Kerry, U.S. Senator: To be truthful with you, I'm not sure why.
These are people who live for Election Day, yet they don't know why we vote on that very day. Chris Rock said, "They don't want you to vote. If they did, we wouldn't vote on a Tuesday. In November. [Have you] ever thrown a party on a Tuesday?" No, of course not. Nobody would show up.

Here's the cool part. Because we asked this question, Why Tuesday?, there's now this bill, the Weekend Voting Act, in the Congress of the United States of America. It would move Election Day from Tuesday to the weekend, so that duh, more people can vote. It has only taken 167 years, but finally we are on the verge of changing American history. Thank you very much.

I wish I could be as optimistic as Jacob Soboroff is in the video, but I’m not because when I looked up the Weekend Voting Act, I read the prognosis that it had a ZERO percent chance of being enacted. I also read the full text of the Bill, which not only changes our Election Days for federal elections to the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November; but also designates poll hours to be Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and ending on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. My one complaint is that it specifically says “eastern standard time” and I think that should be changed to “local time.”

I visited the Why Tuesday? and discovered that it is a “non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout.” If what happened here in Florida this past Tuesday is any indication of the progress they have made since 2005, all I can say is: they need our help!

It seems to me that this is the perfect time to increase the pressure and advocate for a change in the way we vote with the most recent election fresh in everybody’s minds. This needs to be done at the national level because the current way we vote is in the hands of partisan officials at the state level and has proven to be unacceptable. As you know, during his acceptance speech on Tuesday night, President Obama said:

Whether you voted for the first time, or waited in line for a very long time — by the way we have to fix that.
We do have to fix that! We have to make sure we fix that! Anybody in this country who claims to be a Patriot should support changing how we vote to make it easier and more convenient. Politicians who rely on our votes should want every American to be able cast a ballot.

Here in Florida, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who was also Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections for ten years has volunteered to start a non-partisan group:

"I'm going to work to put together a group statewide that can address these issues and make some meaningful recommendations to the Legislature," said Iorio, a former three-term supervisor of elections in Hillsborough County and a past president of the State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

"The last voter in Florida didn't cast their ballot until after 1 a.m.," Iorio wrote on Facebook, where she announced the effort. "This is the 21st century in the greatest country on Earth and people have to stand in line for eight hours to vote? This is wrong, and it is time for a bipartisan solution."

How did incoming state Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) react to the idea of a Iorio’s group?
Sen. Gaetz said he's "willing to look at any proposal," but "I don't think we necessarily need a task force." Better, he said, would probably be for elections supervisors to make recommendations to legislators who can file a bill.

Gaetz said he supports making voting more convenient and has sponsored legislation to help troops cast ballots overseas.

Yeah right. Let’s let the Florida legislature fix the problems they created this election season when they reduced Early Voting days and packed the ballot with 11 amendments to the state constitution; as if what they did had nothing to do with the long lines so many of my fellow Floridians experienced this time around. I have a better idea. Let’s make our voices heard in Washington and support a national change to the law as to when and how we vote.

Where to start? First, I looked and could not find an existing group here at Daily Kos dedicated to changing and/or expanding when we vote. So I created a new group, Do You Know Why We Vote On Tuesday? I chose that name because I think it is the question that is a great conversation starter when we talk to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers. If you would like to join the group, please post a comment requesting an invitation. This is my first attempt at starting a group here at Daily Kos, so I would appreciate all the assistance I can get from others who are interested in writing diaries on this topic and would also like to be an editor to help identify and post other diaries to the group’s feed.

Thank you in advance for your support and assistance!

Tracy

Originally posted to hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:21 AM PST.

Also republished by Do You Know Why We Vote On Tuesday.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As early voting grows in (7+ / 0-)

    numbers, Tuesday is transitioning from being the day everyone votes to the day that everyone has to stop voting. Its importance is diminishing as we speak. When states elect a Democratic legislature and/or governor, they implement early voting. And once a state has early voting, it is hard for a GOP governor to get rid of it (though Rick Scott got rid of half of it). So slowly but surely, the nation will adopt early voting. The reddest red states may not ever do so, but then again early voting in those states is not going to change the outcome.

    •  Yes, but that's only when Democrats have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, Larsstephens

      control. And what's to stop the GOP to turn things backwards yet again if they get control back?

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:41:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here in Florida.... (10+ / 0-)

    ... I'm beginning to think we should vote the Tuesday BEFORE everyone else.   That way we might have the ballots counted in time with the rest of the country.    :P

    Insert witty and profound signature line here.

    by Scrapyard Ape on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:33:02 AM PST

  •  HC - While I do support moving the vote (4+ / 0-)

    to the weekend, I think there's an even better solution.

    Go to all mail-in ballots and early voting, supplemented by a very few generic, county wide polling locations on election day.

    I've spent an inordinate amount of time this past week in the County Clerk's office, watching as the staff painstakingly goes through every provisional ballot. [There's a very close local election I'm watching].  The MIBs were already counted; the early vote was easy to count and verify ID etc. It's the election day voters who forgot to mail in their ballots and so they showed up at the polls and had to vote provisionally, or voters who showed up at the wrong poll (like, the nearest one to their work place rather than their home), who had to vote provisionally AND who are only allowed to vote on Fed / State issues - those are the problems.

    732 provisional souls will take more than 70 hours of staff time to compile.

    Not to mention the cost of election days as they are currently run - in our geographically large but populationally small county, we have 30 precincts. That's 60 paid polling judges @ $150/day, and building rentals and insurance (don't forget insurance in case a voter slips!). That's a chunk for a small county.

    "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

    by nzanne on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:34:27 AM PST

    •  Here in Florida I talked to a lot of voters (5+ / 0-)

      while I was phone banking, and I have to tell you there is a huge distrust of voting by absentee ballot, especially among Democrats. And for good reason. Hundreds were thrown out because (1) the voter didn't sign the envelope, or (2) a panel subjectively decided that the signature on the envelope did not match the one on file.

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:40:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  exactly...voting by mail rocks! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hungrycoyote, Larsstephens

      and that is something that can be won state by state.  oregon and washington have it, and they regularly see voting rates north of 70%

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:41:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We should have a National Voting Day. (5+ / 0-)

    Schools are often closed because they are commonly used as voting sites - so why not just call it a holiday and everyone can vote - maybe work reduced hours, employers should encourage not be punitive when their workers take time to vote.  And we should definitely encourage more people to use mail-in absentee ballots.  

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:38:46 AM PST

    •  After I published this diary, I was reading (4+ / 0-)

      through recently posted diaries, and found a similar excellent suggestion by Twigg: Voting Made Easy (Because I am determined to make the GOP hate me).

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:43:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks :) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hungrycoyote, Larsstephens

        I rather suspect that the real issue isn't the process.

        Everyone knows how to fix it, but half of the political divide refuses to let it happen.

        I, by the way, would also have schools register every Junior to vote.

        At least then we would be close to 100% registration very soon.

        In the UK there is an election commission. Local authorities keep a "Voters Roll". Every two years they mail a form to every household which has to be completed with the names of each eligible voter living in the home.

        Filling the form in is compulsory, although voting is not.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 11:01:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are a lot things we can do to (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          twigg, Larsstephens

          fix things. I love your idea of having the elections at local public schools ... and if we change the voting day to weekends, there would be no need to let kids off from school in order to hold elections there.

          “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

          by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 11:09:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My desire to give the kids a day off (3+ / 0-)

            is simply that it makes "Voting Day" something that children enjoy looking forward to from a very early age.

            It's a simple yet subtle way of making kids feel good about voting.

            I still, all these years later, remember those feelings :)

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            by twigg on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 11:13:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  mail-in problematic (3+ / 0-)

      I'm only in favor of more mail-in ballots IF -- very big IF -- we can ensure that the ballots will actually count, and won't be subjected to nonsense and very high barriers on signature match and all that. And even then, if you mis-mark the ballot, or the scanner detects stray marks, you're out of luck and never even know that it didn't get counted.

      I actually like in-person early voting better, as it equalizes the experience and the likelihood of the ballot actually counting.

  •  Please, hungry, I want to join! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote, Miggles, Larsstephens

    I've always thought it was stupid as hell to vote on a Tuesday! There are people working in low-paid jobs with no bennies who'd get their paycheck docked if they took off work to vote on a Tuesday.  Yeah, I know it's supposed to be a law that you get paid time off to vote; I also know that during my 44 years in the work force NO EMPLOYER ever apprised me of this "law."

    Yes, we should bloody well vote on a weekend!  Let's make it happen!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:47:37 AM PST

    •  Thank you for being the first one to join the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      group. I have sent you an invitation.

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 11:06:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Me too but I don't know how (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hungrycoyote

      There are a couple of groups I would like to join but I don't know how.  There are no "join group" buttons?  

      There is a DKOS Florida and a genealogy group and a few other but I don't know how to sign up!  

      How do I sign up for yours, HC?  

      "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

      by Ricochet67 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:23:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  To join a group, you have to request an (0+ / 0-)

        invite. I just sent one to you for this group ... check your KOS Mail. For other groups you want to join. Click on the page for the group, then click the SEND MESSAGE tab and request an invite.

        I wanted to join the FLORIDA group and requested an invite, but I never received one. I'm not sure who is the admin for it, but I'm guessing whoever it is isn't keeping up with the group any more.

        “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

        by hungrycoyote on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 12:41:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Try again (0+ / 0-)

          I sent a message to DKOS Florida and they sent me an invite.  It may get more active now that we all seem to have the goal of getting rid of Governor Voldemort :)

          I responded to the invite from your "Tuesday" group :) Thank you very much!

          "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

          by Ricochet67 on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:53:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'd go for making election day a holiday, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote, Larsstephens

    rather than changing it to Sat or Sun, because the people I know in low-paying jobs like retail or telephone support don't have the luxury of weekends: their employer is open 7 days a week. Same with firefighters, police, hospital staff, etc.

    "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

    by pianogramma on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 11:19:25 AM PST

    •  Obviously, I hadn't thought out all the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pianogramma, Larsstephens

      options when I wrote this diary. As a Florida resident, I am just livid that so many of my fellow Floridians had to stand in line from 6 to 9 hours just to exercise their right to vote. I'm open to all ideas, and like making Election Day a holiday. I just don't want to see this happen again in future elections, and in order to stop it we need to start making people aware or it's just going to happen again in 2014 and 2016.

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 11:43:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  invite please (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote, Larsstephens

    Nice work as always - nice task to take on and work for. In addition to everything else.

  •  The idea behind defining voting hours... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote, Larsstephens

    ...as based on one time zone is so that they all close at the same moment.  To do it fairly does require that voting hours be continuous over at least a 24 hour period (because some people are better able to vote in the morning, others in the evening, etc), but the advantage is it avoids the election having been decided before polls have closed on the West Coast.

    "If you want me to treat your ideas with respect, get better ideas." John Scalzi

    by SoCalJayhawk on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 11:56:14 AM PST

    •  Thank you, I didn't understand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalJayhawk, Larsstephens

      the reasoning behind why they wrote it that way. So when they say open on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern standard time, that would be 7:00 a.m. in California.

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:28:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Really? Seems unlikely to me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote

    I question the premise of this -- sure, people travelled by horse, but you didn't have to go very far to vote, just into town. And Saturday was often the day people went into town anyway.

    I'd be interested in knowing if it had anything to do with discouraging voting by working-class mill workers and such, just as the property restrictions got eliminated. Of course the only day they had off was Sunday, and given the Blue Laws, that wouldn't have been an acceptable voting day no matter how convenient.

    Also New England town meeting day was Tuesday in many places, so it may have been as simple as keeping that schedule.

    •  Yes, really. It is true. I looked for additional (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, Ricochet67

      information, and it turns out that we had to get a uniform day for voting to deter voter fraud. This is part of the history I didn't know about, so that you for questioning the authenticity and making me dig deeper.

      In its infancy, the US had no set day for national elections. From 1792 until 1845, Congress allowed states to hold their polls any time in the 34 days before the first Wednesday in December, which was the day the Electoral College met.

      Eventually fraud became rampant. Political parties organized gangs of supporters to move from state to state to vote in close elections. So in 1845, Congress established a uniform Election Day for the offices of president and vice president – the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

      For a society in which most people lived on farms, November was a good month to vote. The harvest was in, and snow hadn’t yet closed the roads. Why Tuesday? Records of lawmaker debate show that officials thought Sunday wouldn’t work, because many people were in church. Monday wouldn’t work, because most polling places were in county seats, and folks from outlying areas could not always get there in time.

      Tuesday was the earliest day everybody could make it into town. So Tuesday it was. Congress similarly standardized congressional elections in 1872.

      Election Day 2010: Why we always vote on Tuesdays

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 01:11:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have to realize the county seat (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hungrycoyote

        Was not necessarily the closest town, too.  

        It helps if you think like Little House on the Prairie - Walnut Grove was the town closest to the Ingalls farm, but the county seat was Redwood Falls which was 40 miles away.  

        Now, I've hiked 22 miles in 1 day with scouts but no way could I walk 40 miles, so it's a good thing they could ride a horse.  If they just rode the horse 40 miles in 1 day is very doable, but if you did horse & wagon it would take longer.

        "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

        by Ricochet67 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 08:22:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  He said "vestigial" not "fistula" (0+ / 0-)

    From transcript, 2nd sentence:

    And the way that we're going to uncover this fistula organ of America past is by asking this question: WHY?

    This .signature unintentionally left blank.

    by Avast Ye Swobbie on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:33:17 PM PST

  •  Too conservative for their own good (0+ / 0-)

    And I use the word 'conservative' in the "I can't change because I'm too stupid to think of a better way" use of the word.  

    Show Americans a better way to transport the public, insure their health, vote, or a dozen different other aspects of public policy, and they will shout you down with cries of "we're #1!, we're#1."  Meanwhile, a small group is taking advantage of the existing system and leaving #2 all over the majority of people.

    This thread goes hand-in-glove with the one on gerrymandering.  If you could make it so it was easy for every adult to vote in truly representative districts, there would be an astounding amount of change.  Change that would throw the 1% for a short term loss, until they figured out new ways to rig the system.

    Don't look for any help from Republicans; they are true 'conservatives'.  But the Democrats are too cowardly to propose newer, fairer rules; they figure with a couple minor adjustments, they can still win under the existing rules.  I figure we are in for maybe a few more weeks of noise on the voting process and gerrymandering, after which all will go silent until November two years from now.

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